Tales To Enlighten Kickstarter

TTE cover Fans of the Solid Steel radio show will know the name Megatrip – aka Matt King, long term fan and collector of the show from the early internet days and contributor of several mixes as well as the 200+ volume Soundbank that he used to send us in the 00’s. Each Soundbank CD was a disc filled with spoken word snippets he’d recorded off of countless TV, film and radio shows over the years, each one numbered and indexed into a searchable spoken word treasure trove. Got a show with a love theme? Just type in an associated word into the search bar, select the Soundbank archive and loads of spoken word clips featuring the word would come up. I once played an Australian big band cover version of the Rockford Files theme and overlaid bit of the show from Megatrip’s CDs onto it and he emailed me as soon as it aired as he’d spotted the connection immediately.

TTE robot

Matt is also, like myself, a big comic collector and would pick up stuff cheap for me at shops and fairs in the US and mail big boxes to the UK, covered in old pages ripped from anything he could find. He has a taste for the bizarre and leftfield and has, for the last few years, been beavering away writing his own comic with artist James Edward Clark which has taken on a life of its own and mutated into a huge volume of stories, pin-ups, fake ads and more. Based on the adventures of Satan’s grandson and a killer robot murdering their way across the multiverse in search of enlightenment, it’s a full colour romp through so many kinds of wrong I really don’t know how they’re going to get away with it. I’ve read a PDF version and it’s full of in-jokes, pop culture references, cameos and laugh out loud un-PC-ness, it’s guaranteed to offend and delight in equal measure.

2c - SYNOPSIS SQUARE

TTE croc

Actually, the whole project has now amassed so much material that there will be the original story, five character shorts and a huge pin-up gallery from a whole range of guest artists. To get this monster tome published Matt’s set up a Kickstarter which launches today – the book is done, it just needs funding.  Go here to see what it’s all about.  You can also follow them on Instagram  UPDATE: Funded in 6 hours!!!

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The 90s comics bubble bursts

Speakeasy cover

I recently ran across this issue of Speakeasy from 1991 – a once monthly UK publication, part-comics news and interviews, part-comic shorts – and wondered if this was the peak of the late 80s / early 90s independent comic boom? Looking at the people featured in that issue alone it’s an embarrassment of riches: Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Brian Bolland, Daniel Clowes and Simon Bisley just on the cover alone. Any two or three of those would have seen me picking up the issue and the Bisley cover has him at the height of his painterly powers.

Speakeasy Biz

Bisley had done Slaine: The Horned God and was in the middle of the Batman/Judge Dredd crossover Judgement on Gotham and Morrison had just finished Doom Patrol and was handing over his Drivel column to Warren Ellis. Clowes was some issues into his Eightball run and McKean was doing Sandman covers and publishing Cages, his 12 issue square format reimagining of what comics could be. Bolland had long gone over to the US to do The Killing Joke and front cover work for numerous lines but that’s not all. Also featured are interviews with Harvey Pekar on his American Splendor collection and words and pictures from Shaky Kane. That’s a pretty great collection of talent.

Speakeasy Bolland

Top news stories are the Infinity Gauntlet saga in the Marvel universe, a Batman vs Predator team up with Dark Horse rolling out the first of their licensed Aliens, Predator and Terminator comics. Kevin Eastman’s recently-founded Tundra is still spilling out titles, early attempts to sell Manga to the West in the shape of Otomo’s Akira are reviewed and Pete Bagge is getting into his stride with Hate. Mike McMahon‘s The Last American was also mentioned and the now-classic America story had run in the Judge Dredd Megazine. So many books and stories that would go on to become classics.

Speakeasy InfinitySpeakeasy Clowes

On the shelves there was much from the Brits to pry the money out of a fanboy’s grubby hand but the ever-present 2000AD was looking a bit outdated in its teenage years and about to slip into a creative quagmire for much of the 90s. In competition there was the aforementioned Judge Dredd Megazine, Deadline in full flow with Tank Girl et al, Crisis was wobbling through some content troubles and Toxic had just been launched in the anarchic spirit of ’77 by some of 2000AD’s originators. Viz was at the height of its popularity, selling over a million copies an issue and anthologies like A1 and the Marvel UK reprint title, Strip were around too. And this is before your forked out for any of the American imports…

Speakeasy Morrison

The first cracks had begun to show with the cancellation of hugely hyped Revolver the previous year after only 7 issues and with the next issue of Speakeasy the magazine was about to evolve into a full comic of its own under the name of Blast! As great as this was it would also only last 7 issues (with Speakeasy as an insert for just 5) before being cancelled and, as with Revolver the year before, it seemed that this was the last big attempt to launch a new title into an already oversaturated marketplace. One high profile failure was bad but two in the space of a year seemed to ring the alarm bells that maybe buyers couldn’t sustain this much content. Incidentally, 2000AD would also try to launch another comic (twice) in 1992 – Earthside 8 which had then morphed into Alternity – neither of which made it past the mock up stage to the shop shelves.

Speakeasy Pekar

By the end of the year both Toxic and Crisis had also folded with Deadline ending a few years later in 1995 after blazing its way through the comics boom and hitching itself to the Britpop movement, even helping birth a Hollywood film of their lead character, Tank Girl. They had a good run and over in the US things faired a bit better with Dark Horse and Image building into hugely successful publishing houses and DC’s Vertigo imprint starting in 1993 and operating for 27 years. The biggest casualty at the time was probably Kevin Eastman’s Tundra operation, set up as a creator-owned imprint with the profits from his and Peter Laird‘s Ninja Turtles, it closed in 1993, never making a profit and costing Eastman a reputed $14 million.

Speakeasy Shaky

The house of Tharg ultimately survived everyone, 2000AD is into its 44th year, struggled through its adolescence and has been in a second golden age for nearly 20 years now after a threadbare 90s patch. The Megazine mutated through several different formats and weathered their own Hollywood flop in the shape of the Judge Dredd film starring Stallone before finding their feet and are still on top form 30 years later.

Speakeasy Blast

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Four hour Kevin O’Neill 2000AD podcast

One of my absolute favourite British comic artists is Kevin O’Neill, co-creator of characters like Ro-busters, A.B.C Warriors, Nemesis The Warlock, Metalzoic, Marshal Law and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In this 2 part epic 4.5 hr podcast he tells of his time before, during and after 2000AD in what must be one of his most in depth interviews.

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Psychedelic craze comic crossovers

BunnyI always like seeing the psychedelic style of the late 60s adopted by items outside of the immediate area of music. It’s usually a watered down version but it’s always fun to see how some ‘straighter’ mediums co-opted to style of the day to be hip with the kids. Regular comics especially went through a phase of being ‘groovy’, ‘swinging’ or ‘hip’ and it was big with love and romance titles for girls. Here are some covers I’ve collected on my internet trawls, obviously omitting work from the underground sector whose artists helped build the style in the first place.

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Early Nick Fury covers really went at it for a short period too
Nick Fury
Nick_Fury_005nick-fury-4Jimmy Olsen Groovy

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Caza – Kris Kool reprint book pre-order

KK cover

Finally, after years of wanting a copy of Caza‘s psychedelic space book, Kris Kool, Italy’s Passenger Press has reprinted and recoloured it AND translated it into English! The original French language version of this always fetches high prices and this version has been done in association with Caza himself and includes extras as well. For the first 200 copies there’s also a signed print as an incentive too! You can pre-order it here

pagine-KRIS-KOOL-a-confronto-01-ENG-V2 KK inside

Jeffrey Lewis’ Fuff comics

Fuff 7Being a fan and collector of underground comics as well some of the indie stuff out there I was intrigued to find a copy of something called Fuff #7 by Jeffrey Lewis in a charity shop recently. I recognised his name on the cover because a friend had played me his excellent ode to vinyl ‘I caught the disease for LPs’ a while back and my partner has seen him a bunch of times at the Windmill in Brixton over the years. Halfway through the issue he splits the page in half and the story runs to the back page, flips upside down and then runs back into the comic to circle back on itself above the pages preceding it. I like artists who play with the format and the strip deals in time travel with the characters journeying back in time from a future issue with their dialogue reversed into the bargain.

Anyway, I loved it and looked online for more, Jeff has back issues on his website but he’s in the US and the postage on those things to the UK is crazy, but I lucked out as a British seller on eBay was selling issues 1-6 – what are the chances? The tone of the strips is summed up on the cover of issue 7 – ‘Travelogues, Biography, Fiction, Whimsy’ – semi autobiographical in a kind of Robert Crumb / Harvey Pekar American Splendor style, mostly dealing with his tour diaries, tales his dad told him and surreal oddball characters.

Fuff 1-6

So I’m totally loving the first seven issues and I have to get the set because I’m a completist like that and I’m feeling bad about not ordering from Jeff and putting some money in his pocket during this pandemic so I ordered issues 8-12 direct and he sent a little drawing along with them too :). The comics just got better and better, the European tour diary was a great insight to an independent musician on the road, his self-confessional sex therapy sessions with Dr. Afting Table M.D. are a brave move and a tale of his dad’s acid trip in the woods in issue #11 was the best yet. Finally, issue 12 deals in a cosmic tale with God featuring character cameos from previous issues that just upped the ante even further into a mind-blowing critique of today’s all-knowing, opinion-orientated world.

Fuff 8-12

The sad thing about the timing for issue 12 was that Jeff released it at the beginning of the year with a view to selling copies on tour in the Spring. Of course that’s not happening for the foreseeable future so, like most artists, he’s had a major part of his income cut off. What I’m trying to say here is simply check out Jeff’s comics if you can as they’re great if you enjoy that kind of material and he could do with the support. He even does a bundle with the first 11 issues including the harder to find #0 which reprints micro comics he drew as flyers in the 90s. And of course check out his music while you’re there.

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Savage Pencil – Rated SavX book

Rated SavX bookSavage Pencil aka Edwin Pouncey has been floating in and out of my life for decades now. Whether through the Wiseblood ‘Motorslug’ 12″ insert, ‘Nyak, Nyak’, the Big Black sleeve for their Headache EP or Blast First‘s compilation cover, ‘Nothing Short of Total War‘. He cropped up in the NME and Sounds, doing spot illustrations for album reviews, The Wire magazine with his Primer feature collages and Trip or Squeek cartoon strip and numerous other leftfield magazines.
There he was in Knockabout Comics‘ anthologies, a page here or there in Weirdo or some long-forgotten independent zine or one-off publication. I used to see his Dead Duck comic on the spinner in Forbidden Planet and his designs for Slam City Skates in Covent Garden before going downstairs to Rough Trade where I would find obscure indie singles with his art on the covers, posters of Godzilla-like monsters behind the counter and his biker movie picture disc compilation, ‘Angel Dust’. In recent years I’d run into him at Orbital Comics, signing copies of the latest Satanic Mojo comic, the memorabilia shop in Cecil Court where he sometimes worked or at record fairs where he’d be either selling behind a stall or perusing the bins with Thurston Moore.
Eventually we met properly when I interviewed him for Rough Trade’s 40th anniversary book in 2016 and again when I spoke to both Edwin and Chris Long about their Battle of the Eyes project with the late Andy Dog in a still-unpublished interview. And now he rears his head again in Strange Attractor Press‘ excellent book of his career, ‘Rated SavX’.
This seems to be the definitive book of his work so far, lots of archive-delving has gone on here and there are many lost or unpublished illustrations from across his life whether it be black metal sleeves, fly illustrations, his punk past or his love of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth’s monster cars and cartoons. It’s all here in eye-straining detail with enough info to have you wishing you’d picked up that tiny print run publication he released all those years ago. Nevertheless, I zipped through it and now have new items on the wants list – highly recommended. There’s still time to get the limited edition hardback of this with extra (S)crapbook of unpublished roughs and Appreciation Society patch from the publisher’s website. While you’re there check the rest of their inventory, they have some fascinating books about counter culture, music, psychedelia and the occult world.

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Tales To Enlighten

a737d00b-026f-4839-bf1d-e66006e4b4d6Long term Solid Steel fan, Megatrip, has long also been a comic fan and our friendship has included his sourcing obscure US publications for me and sending occasional packages over from the States that would cost a lot more had I procured them from the likes of eBay. In recent years he’s also been writing and collating a project called, ‘Tales To Enlighten’, which has become a bit of a long-running joke in that it’s been ‘coming soon’ for the last 2 years at least. Well, it looks like it may actually arrive soon, in not one but two volumes due to the amount of material that it’s now grown to.

From the mail out blurb: “Volume one of TALES TO ENLIGHTEN is a 150-ish page story, titled “Shredding Through the Multiverse” with art by the amazingly talented James Edward Clark!  also featuring a hilarious back-up story by my good friend Dave Gordon… AND two fistfuls of tremendous pin-ups by the likes of Erwin Papa, Ben Mara, Jim Mahfood, Ken Landgraf, Mike Hoffmanand WAY more!

the story: Satan’s Grandson and a reluctant killer robot murder their way across the multiverse in an effort to reach Enlightenment. Satan’s Sado-Cult tries to intercept the duo and Amazon Warriors seek revenge…  Enter a Cosmic DJ / Space God that teaches them a better way of life through Peace, Love and Universal Brotherhood”

errrrr, please tale my money – he continues…

“TALES TO ENLIGHTEN volume two is another 150-ish pages with 16 stories by 15 artists (Tony Sedani pulls double duty!)… prequel stories and sequel stories.  A children’s story about the murder of a 15-fingered dj. A wrestling story about a dimensional title match for all the marbles…  and story about Satan’s Sorcerer, Doctor Outlandish and his Demonic Direct Drive Engine!

Artists from all over the world… Slovakia, Russia, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark and Baltimore!”

If you want to know more you can follow Tales To Enlighten on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or sign up to their mailing list here

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2019

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What a grim end to the year and the decade, good riddance to the last four years at least. Writing this on the morning of Friday 13th as the results and fallout of the election come in, it’s hard to muster the energy and will to rejoice in anything when the turkeys have voted for Xmas. I used to be largely ignorant of current affairs and politics, back in my youth, I thought it was dull and boring, why would I be interested in any of that? But you grow up, you have a family and these things start to matter because they affect your life whether you like it or not. Back in the first half of December it felt like there was still hope, a chance to pull things back from the brink, but not now when the country has voted overwhelmingly for Johnson’s government in the belief that he will fix things that he helped engineer in the first place.

Sometimes I wish I was ignorant again, as ignorant as those who didn’t vote or voted on personalities, believing the lies and propaganda peddled by the media. But you can’t just turn that tap off, not once you’ve understood how the system works and see the soap opera play out. You CAN however blot it out for a bit by reading, watching, visiting or listening to great art made by your fellow man, or woman or non-identifying person. There was a lot of it this year and here’s some of the favourite ways I blotted parts of this year out.

LPs 2019

Music / podcasts –
way too much new music to keep up with only so much time and money, I probably listened to Adam Buxton‘s shows from the archive more than anything else this year:
Pye Corner Audio – Hollow Earth LP (Ghost Box)
Various – Corroded Circuits EP 12″ (Downfall Recordings)
Chris Moss Acid – Heavy Machine 12″ (Balkan Vinyl)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishes LP (Flightless)
Pictogram – Trace Elements cassette (Miracle Pond)
Vanishing Twin – The Age of Immunology LP (Fire Records)
Big Mouth podcast (various) (Acast)
Beans – Triptych LP (Gamma Proforma)
Roisin Murphy – Incapable single (Skint)
Ebony Steel Band – Pan Machine LP (Om Swagger)
People Like Us – The Mirror LP (Discrepant)
Coastal County – Coastal County LP (Lomas)
Adam Buxton podcast (various) (Acast)
Ghost Funk Orchestra – A Song For Paul LP (Karma Chief)
Jon Brooks – Emotional Freedom Techniques LP (Cafe Kaput)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Organ Farmer (from Infest the Rat’s Nest LP) (Flightless)
Jane Weaver – Fenella LP (Fire Records)
Polypores – Brainflowers cassette (Miracle Pond)

Seemed to acquire a lot of tapes this year too…

Tapes 2019

 

Designs 2019

Design / packaging – so much good stuff out there, Nick Taylor goes from strength to strength, Reuben Sutherland‘s work for Sculpture always inspires and Victoria Topping continues to do great art for On The Corner Records:
Pepe Deluxé – The Surrealist Woman lathe cut 7″ (Catskills)
Various – Science & Technology ERR Rec Library Vol.2 (ERR Records)
DJ Pierre presents ACID 88 vol. III LP (Afro Acid)
Mark Ayres plays Wendy Carlos – Kubrick 7″ (Silva Screen)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Citizen Input 10″ (Polytechnic Youth)
The Utopia Strong – S/T LP (Rocket Recordings)
Jarvis – Sunday Service LP (ACE records)
Andy Votel – Histoire D’Horreur cassette (Hypocrite?)
Sculpture – Projected Music 5″ zoetrope picture disc (Psyché Tropes)
Lapalux – Amnioverse LP (Brainfeeder)
Hieroglyphic Being –  Synth Expressionism / Rhythmic Cubism LP (On The Corner Records)

films 2019

Film / TV – I really don’t watch too much TV or get to the cinema as often as I’d like to:
Sculpture – Meeting Our Associates (Plastic Infinite)
This Time with Alan Partridge (BBC)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel)
Imaginary Landscapes – Sam Campbell (Vinyl Factory)
What We Do In The Shadows (BBC2)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)

Books 2019.2

Books / Comics / Magazines I read constantly, all sorts of stuff, a lot online, I found less interesting new comics this year or there were fewer that made an impression. Also many of my regular reads came to an end so there was less to consume on that front.
Beastie Boys Book – Mike Diamond & Adam Horowitz (Spiegel & Grau)
Cosmic Comics – A Kevin O’Neill Miscellany (Hibernia Books)
Electronic Sound (Pam Comm Ltd)
Eve Stranger – David Barnett / Philip Bond (Black Crown)
Bicycle Day – Brian Blomerth (Anthology Editions)
Moebius – 40 Days In The Desert (expanded edition) (Moebius Productions)
Rock Graphic Originals  – Peter Golding w. Barry Miles (Thames & Hudson)
2000AD / Judge Dredd Megazine (Rebellion)
Silver Surfer Black – Donny Cates/Tradd Moore (Marvel)
Help – Simon Amstell (Square Peg)
The Scarfolk Annual – Richard Littler (William Collins)
Wrappers Delight – Jonny Trunk (Fuel)

Gigs 2019

Gigs / Events – I spent a lot of time in Café Oto, socialising to the sights and sounds of Jonny Trunk & Martin Green or watching groups that featured Cathy Lucas this year:
Vanishing Twin @ Prince of Wales Pub, Brighton
Stereolab @ Concorde 2, Brighton
People’s Vote march 23rd March, London
Wobbly Sounds book launch @ Spiritland, London
Confidence Man @ The Electric, Brixton, London
Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival, Moseley, Birmingham
Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, Manchester
HaHa Sounds Collective play David Axelrod’s Earth Rot @ Tate Exchange, London
School of Hypnosis play In C @ Cafe Oto, London
Palace Electrics, Antenna Studios, London
The Delaware Road, New Zealand Farm, Salisbury
Breaking Convention closing party, Greenwich, London
Jonny Trunk & Martin Green’s Hidden Library @ Spiritland, Southbank, London
Negativland / People Like Us @ Cafe Oto, London
HaHa Sound Collective plays the David Axelrod songbook @ The Church of Sound, London,
Sculpture, Janek Schaefer, Mariam Rezaei + the 26 turntable ensemble @ The Old Baths, Hackney, London Vanishing Twin & Jane Weaver’s Fenella @ Studio 9294, Hackney Wick, London

Art 2019

Exhibitions – there was so much art to see in 2019, I managed most of it but London does spoil you sometimes and you can’t see it all. Just a stroll round the Brick Lane area of east London will delight with the free art painted, stuck or sprayed on the walls for all to see:
Sister Corita Kent @ House of Illustration, London,
Augustinbe Kofie @ Stolen Space, London,
Victor Vasarely @ Pompidou Centre, Paris,
Mary Quant @ V&A Museum, London,
Stanley Kubrick @ The Design Museum, London,
Tim Hunkin’s Novelty Automation Museum, London,
Keith Haring retrospective @Tate, Liverpool,
Nam June Paik, Tate Modern, London,
Takis @ Tate Modern, London,
Shepard Fairy @ Stolen Space, London,
Damien Hirst ‘Mandalas’ at the White Cube, London,
Bridget Riley @ The Hayward, London,
Museum of Neo-liberalism, Lewisham, London.

Openmind 2019

Another year over and what have I done? quite pleased with this lot this year:  
Become by own agent for the first half of the year (not fun)
Designed As One’s ‘Communion’ LP sleeve for De:tuned
Toured my Kraftwerk: Klassics, Kovers & Kurios AV set
Contributed to the Wobbly Sounds book on flexi discs published by Four Corner Books
Performed a 30 minute reimagining of Kraftwerk’s ‘Radio-Activity’ album
Appeared on Big Mouth, Out Of The Wood, Jonny Trunk’s OST, Dusk Dubs, Mix-Ins, 45 Live, Mostly Sounds podcasts / shows
Continued the design for De:tuned’s 10th anniversary with a 10th volume, poster, tote bag and more
Built a modified turntable with three extra floating arms for future performances
Designed a fold out 3″ CD Xmas card for The Real Tuesday Weld – more to come in 2020…

For no other reason – Badges, along with the cassettes it’s like the 80s never stopped

Badges 2019

RIP: Daryl Dragon, Ron Smith, Ken Nordine, Peter Tork, Mark Hollis, Keith Flint, Magenta Devine, Hal Blaine, Scott Walker, Quentin Fiore, Dr John, MAD magazine, Vertigo comics, Rutger Hauer, Ras G, Peter Fonda, Richard Williams, Pedro Bell, David Cain, Patsy Colegate, Clive James, David Bellamy, Phase 2, Gershon Kingsley, Emil Richards, Dave Riley (Big Black), Vaughn Oliver, Neil Innes, Syd Mead.

Looking forward to: – not much to look forward to except a year of Brexit, economic downturn and US Presidential campaigns but these might lighten the mood…
Paul Weller and Plone on Ghost Box
A Touched Music special release in conjunction with De:tuned for World Cancer Day – 4th Feb.
The second Revbjelde LP, ‘Hooha Hubbub’, from the Buried Treasure label
More designs for The Real Tuesday Weld…
The next Group Modular album, released on a UK label
The Castles In Space label releasing a remastered vinyl version of Clocolan’s excellent 2019, cassette-only, ‘It’s Not Too Early For Each Other’ album.
The return of Slow Death Comix
45 Live releasing their first acid 7” with Type 303 in Feb
Ian Holloway from The British Space Group’s new label, Wyrd Britain – the first release will be his own ‘The Ley of the Land’.
The Amorphous Androgynous album, ‘Listening Beyond The Head Chakra’ and album-length single, ‘We Persuade Ourselves That We Are Immortal’ around Easter
Ninja Tune’s 30th anniversary in the Autumn
An exhibition about electronic music at the Design Museum featuring Kraftwerk, Jeff Mills, Ellen Allien, Jean-Michel Jarre and BBC Radiophonic Workshop among others
The Masters of British Comic Art book by David Roach in April
The return of Spitting Image (we really need this)

Happy New Year x

Kevin O’Neill miscellany ‘Cosmic Comics’ from Hibernia Comics

Cosmic Comics REVIEW (Lo-Res)-1
Hibernia Comics, who published the excellent ‘Beyond 2000AD’ a few years back, have a new release that taps into possibly the ultimate Thrill Powered nostalgia-fest yet – a miscellany of Kevin O’Neill artwork called Cosmic Comics. Collecting covers, short story illustrations, mock up adverts and full runs of his Captain Klep (first published in Tornado) and Dash Decent (from 2000AD).
A 68 page collection in full colour and black & white, we’re treated to Kev’s first forays into comic strip work, one-off cover stories and other oddities that don’t cross over into his ABC Warriors, Dredd or Nemesis work. Starting in the late 70s and progressing through to the late 80s (although mostly rooted in the earlier part of the decade) it’s dripping with detail and creativity as we witness the glory years where he made his reputation as one of the clutch of artists responsible for 2000AD’s first golden age. This is the collection I’ve been waiting for for 30 years and never thought I’d see so I’ll be buying it as soon as I can and hats off to David McDonald at Hibernia for putting this together. Buy it here for the princely sum of £8 (Earth Money).
Cosmic Comics REVIEW (Lo-Res)-14 Cosmic Comics REVIEW (Lo-Res)-62 Cosmic Comics REVIEW (Lo-Res)-66

RIP Ron Smith

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Ron Smith – one of the original golden era 2000AD greats has passed away. I never quite appreciated how deft his line work was until later but he had a hand in many classic Judge Dredd stories based around crime in Mega City One (Otto Sump, Chopper, Fatties, etc.) as well as plenty of the Judge Child saga and The Angel Gang.

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2018 – a vintage year for new music

It’s the end of the year and reading down the list of sounds that have moved me most in 2018 I’m struck by how much new music there is after years of digging a lot of reissues over current styles. This may well be because the well is finally running dry on a lot of the stuff I’m interested in but more likely that the old adage of great music being made in times of great strife is coming home to roost again. There is no order to the lists below, no No.1 or ‘best’ of anything although they are mostly chronological as I write stuff down as I hear or see it.

Special mentions though for the Castles In Space label that continues to go from strength to strength, the Confidence Man album which got a lot of play despite me missing them live twice. Trevor Jackson‘s beautiful design for his ‘System’ CD and cassette, so good I bought it three times, The Advisory Circle‘s ‘Ways Of Seeing’ LP and the Tomorrow Syndicate‘s excellent ‘Future Tense’ album, complete with Nick Taylor artwork.

Supporting both The The (on several UK dates) and the Art Of Noise was the stuff of teenage dreams and the former’s biography by Neil Fraser is a fascinating read. The Karminsky Experience Inc.’s ‘See Inside’ VR single was a genuinely eye-opening experience and having them and Markey Funk down at Further was a treat. Walking into the House of Illustration‘s John Vernon Lord exhibition to be unexpectedly confronted with the original drawing of his 1966 masterpiece, ‘Beneath The Tree’, was the art high of the year and the People’s Vote march in October restored my faith in humanity for an afternoon. Electronic Sound magazine continues to excel and their first LP release, Jack Dangers‘ remix of Terry Riley‘s ‘In C’, was another disc that saw a lot of play this year.

On Dec 23rd I played a lot of my favourite releases of 2018 on WNBC‘s Out Of The Wood show which you can hear below, complete with mic. fluffs and wrong track listings.

As we go into 2019 I’m dreading the first three months, leading up to the Br*x*t deadline, hoping against hope for a last minute chance to reconsider but bracing for a fallout post 29/03/19 that could see chaos come to the UK. I hope that I’m writing a more positive missive this time next year, if not then at least the music will only get better and better…

Music 2Music / chat:
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside 7″ (Patterns of Behaviour)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gumboot Soup LP (Flightless)
Beautify Junkyards – The Invisible Worlds of LP (Ghost Box)
Basil Kirchin – I Start Counting LP (Trunk)
Bigmouth podcast (Audioboom)
The Turbans – Baba Ganooz 7″ (Mona Tone/Delights)
Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade LP (Duophonic)
The Advisory Circle – Ways Of Seeing LP (Ghost Box)
Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel (single) (Wondaland)
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People LP (Heavenly)
Concretism – For Concrete & Country LP (Castles In Space)
Trevor Jackson – System CD (Pre_)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Future Tense LP (Polytechnic Youth)
Chaka Khan – Like Sugar (single) (Dairy)
Jonny Trunk – OST show (Resonance FM)
Regal Worm – Pig Views / Use And Ornament (Uranium Club)
Meat Beat Manifesto vs Terry Riley – In C (Electronic Sound)
Patrick R. Park – Library Sounds LP (Castles In Space)
David Shire – The Conversation LP (Trunk)
Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships LP (Pekula)
Adam Buxton podcast
Type 303 – The New Ravelution EP (Insult To Injury)
Luke Vibert – 165 303 – from the Gradients vol.2 LP (Astrophonica)
Luke Vibert presents Garave vol.1 LP (Hypercolour)
Kosmischer Laufer – Vol.4 LP (UCR)

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Packaging / design:
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside VR glasses (Patterns of Behaviour)
Chop – CDL 10″ (Drumetrics)
Concretism – For Concrete & Country LP (2nd edition) (Castles In Space)
Trevor Jackson – System 1st & 2nd edition CD + Cassette (Pre_)
Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour Cassette & comic (Tapebox)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Future Tense Regular + Ltd Ed. LP (Polytechnic Youth)
Spider Jazz – splatter vinyl edition LP (Trunk)
Spun Out Of Control vinyl + cassettes
Aver – River of Ice Cream 7″ promo flexi disc
Listening Centre 5″ lathe cut picture disc (Polytechnic Youth)

Packaging design

Books/Comics:
VS – Ivan Brandon / Eric Ribic (Image)
A Year In The Country ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ – Stephen Prince
The Adventures of Jodelle – Guy Peellhaert (Fantagraphics)
Batman – White Knight  – Sean Murphy (DC)
Orla Kiely – A Life In Pattern (Octopus Books)
Electronic Sound magazine
Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music – David Hollander (Anthology Editions)
House Industries – The Process Is The Inspiration (Watson-Guptill Publications)
Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour comic (Tapebox)
Proxima Centuri – Farel Dalrymple (Image)
Doomsday Clock – Geoff Johns / Gary Frank (DC)
Saga – Brian K. Vaughn / Fiona Staples (Image)
Long Shadows, High Hopes – Neil Fraser (Omnibus Press)
Judge Dredd – The Small House (Rob Williams & Henry Flint) (2000AD/Rebellion)
Lawless  – Dan Abnett / Phil Winslade (Judge Dredd Megazine/Rebellion)
Pete Fowler – Decades of Lead (Unbound)
Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell (Profile books)

Books + comics

Film/TV:
Inside No.9 series 4 + Halloween special
The Inertia Variations documentary
Flowers series 2
Avengers: Infinity War
Yellow Submarine 50th anniversary remaster
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside VR + packaging
Bobby Gillespie on Newsnight
The Clock – Christian Marclay, Tate Modern
Bros: After The Screaming Stops (BBC)

Film3

Events / Gigs:
Art of Noise, British Library
‘O Is For Orange’ premiere Archspace, London
The The, Albert Hall, The Troxy, London, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
The Crystal Palace Festival afterparty @ The Paxton Pub, Gypsy Hill, London – one of those gigs where every track flows and lands just right.
The Indie Label Market, Spitalfields, London
The People’s Vote march in October
Jane Weaver at EArtH, London
The Soundcarriers, Gloria and Strange Majick @ The Victoria, London
Dirty Fan Male at the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, London

Gigs

Exhibitions:
Sister Corita Kent – Ditchling Art & Craft Museum
Orla Kiely – Fashion & Textile Museum, London
Aphex Twin posters – Elephant & Castle underground, London
The Shape of Light, Tate Modern, London
May The Toys Be With You – New Walk Museum, Leicester
John Vernon Lord – The House of Illustration, London
Peanuts – Somerset House, London
Daniel Mullen – Lisa Norris Gallery, London

Exhibitions 2018

“Another year over and what have I done?”
Designed Peshay‘s ‘Reflections’ LP for the De:Tuned label
Created a 3 minute spoken word collage for Penguin/Random House‘s Voices event at the London Palladium on World Book Day
Supported the Art Of Noise at The British Library
DJed multiple times at Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner
Opened for The The at several of their UK gigs including the Royal Albert Hall, Brixton Academy, Glasgow Barrowlands and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Further at the Portico Gallery with Pete Williams, Markey Funk and the Karminsky Experience Inc.
Designed a nine disc set for De:tuned‘s forthcoming 10th anniversary releases
Mixes for Solid Steel, 45 Live, Brokers, Rat Records, Out Of The Wood, Diggers Dozen and radio show appearances for Resonance and Soho Radio
Overhauled my Openmindesign.uk website

DJ Food gigs

RIP: France Gall, Ken Dodd, Stephen Hawking, Matt Dike, Lovebug Starski, Jabo Starks, Tom Wolfe, Aretha Franklin, Orla Kiely shops, Carlos Ezquerra, Paul Allen, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, HMV, June Whitfield.

Looking forward to: The Delaware Road 2019, Keith Haring retrospective at Tate Liverpool, the Wobbly Sounds book, Further at the Ace Hotel, Sister Corita Kent at the House of Illustration, De:tuned‘s monthly 10th anniversary 12″s, Avengers: Endgame

Happy New Year!

RIP Stan Lee

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Even though I’ve read comics since childhood and continue to consume a healthy amount each month I’ve never been a big reader of Marvel. But it’s impossible to escape the characters from the Marvel Universe as their reach, even in my childhood, snaked from comics out into TV, T-shirts, posters and any piece of memorabilia that could hold an image. Back before comic shops were even a thing the spinner racks in the local newsagent would be overflowing with random issues, frustratingly irregular, making it impossible to read a full run unless you put the work in and were extremely lucky. You knew the characters though, Spiderman and The Hulk had live action TV shows, Fantastic Four was an animated cartoon series (with incredible music, as sampled by MF Doom), Silver Surfer and Thor would appear on T-shirts, pencil cases, rubbers…

Back when Marvel UK published Star Wars Weekly they would fill out each issue with reprints from the lesser known canon of the Marvel Universe to bolster the page count each week. Hence I read Deathlock, The Micronauts (from a toy line I used to play with), Star Lord, ROM- Spacenight, Warlock and more without knowing their place in the scheme of things. But I had little interest in the ‘fights in tights’ kind of superhero stories, instead preferring the pages of British publications like 2000AD, Eagle, Warrior, Scream et al – comics where you could actually get hold of each subsequent issue without a gap in the story line.

So these lesser-known characters were really the Marvel of my youth but where the company came into their own for me was later, at the cinema. Until the first Iron Man, X-Men and Spiderman films only DC‘s Batman had had even a passable effort made at a superhero/comic book movie (OK, maybe the first Superman film too but that belongs to a bygone era). Finally here was the comic transposed to film done properly, with all the fan service embedded, and with a long-reaching plan that intended to do the ultimate crossover event in film, just like the comics. And they did it! 10 years of planning, building characters for new audiences, sometimes faithful to the comics, sometimes not, but what they achieved with Avengers: Infinity War this year was something I don’t think has ever been done in cinematic history. And we know that this is just phase 1, the celluloid universe they’ve created is even mightier than the paper one and it originated with one man – Stan Lee.

Now, I know it’s not as simple as that, not least with the Jack Kirby family struggles to get his contributions recognised, and there seem to be problems with Lee taking a lot of credit for work he maybe oversaw rather than created. But – as in many of these instances – I believe it’s usually the sum of the people involved rather than any one individual that makes these legendary creations happen and it’s indisputable that Stan was at the helm when a lot of what we now know as the Marvel Universe was created. He cleverly assured his place in the scheme of things by putting himself front and centre in many of the comics’ back pages (and sometimes even the covers) and this continued in the films. My kids have never read a Marvel comic but they know the characters from the films and they certainly know who Stan Lee is too from his sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-t cameos in each Marvel movie. After years of them being scorned, Marvel have made comic creations acceptable in Hollywood and bought a whole new generation into comic shops as a result.

He leaves behind a huge legacy, a whole universe of characters, many of who ascended into pop culture before the films and many more who no doubt will in due time. RIP Stan ‘The Man’ Lee.

(Image by Butcher Billy)

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Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour

Nearest Neighbour by Sculpture Press Release-1Not only does the next release from Sculpture contain Dan Hayhurst‘s trademark scattershot tape manipulations and noise bursts – housed inside a red cassette this time round – it also comes with a graphic novel, illustrated as usual, by Reuben Sutherland as only he knows how. It’s not all microscopic sound exploration though, standout track, ‘Nite Flite’ comes on like a classic late 80’s house meets early 90’s B12 exploration, complete with 4/4 kick and sci-fi synth pads. Preview a track here

Nearest Neighbour: Graphic Novel/C70 Compact Cassette by Sculpture from Sculpture on Vimeo.

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Reuben this time pushes the boundaries of what an abstract comic can be whilst still readable as a sequence of events. Imagine one of his undulating zoetrope/phenakistoscope animations spread out across the pages, subtle changes in repetition and zooms pushing the visual narrative forward with each panel. The mind boggles as to how he lays this stuff all out without the joins showing. The 23 track album is released on 11th August on their Tapebox label as a cassette/download/book. Pre-order it here https://plasticinfinite.bandcamp.com/album/nearest-neighbour

Nearest Neighbour 4 by Sculpture Press Release-17Nearest Neighbour 5 by Sculpture Press Release-7

The Delaware Road comic pt.1 – Black Propaganda

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The mystery that is The Delaware Road deepens with the first episode of a projected six part comic from the Buried Treasure label. Taking the story back to the Second World War we meet new characters as it sets the stage for a new chapter in this tale of the occult, orgies and oscillators. Less than 10 copies are left so be quick as there won’t be any reprints in this form. The comic is A5 size, 20 pages, colour cover, B&W interior, and comes in a protective bag with backing board. DelRdinsideDelRd inside2

Pulp Magazine archive

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Stuff that’s been clogging up the desktop Pt.4

Toby Whitebread (New Analog Illustration) sent me a link to a pulp magazine archive a few weeks back and I waded through it to find these beauties.

We start with a trio of lesser-seen Vaughn Bodé covers, at least one of which is a collab with Larry Todd

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1968-11_IF_0000 Amazing_Stories_v48n02_1974-08_0000

I’m not sure who these next two are by, the first could be Josh Kirby
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Three lovely Mike Hinge covers…Amazing_Stories_v46n01_1972-05_0000 Amazing_Stories_v46n05_1973-01_Gorgon776_0001 Amazing_Stories_v48n04_1974-12_Gorgon776_0001

Brian Lewis doing his Richard Powers / Yves Tanguy impressionNew_Worlds_069v23_1958-03_0001Science_Fantasy_28v10_1958-04_0000 Science_Fantasy_40v14_1960-04_0000

and finally, a couple of Richard Powers properStar_Science_Fiction_v01n01_1958-01_Sam_Hall-sleipnir_edit_0000Beyond_Fantasy_Fiction_v01n01_1953-07_cape1736_0000